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No. 3 Oregon v. No. 4 LSU quite a showcase opener
Oregon’s last game was the national championship, which it narrowly lost to another SEC team, Auburn.
The Ducks have spent the entire offseason trying to get over that, with this game a perfect chance to bounce back strong. For Thomas, this game is “bigger than the national championship” because he wants to show Miles what a mistake he made by not promising to let him play quarterback.
Miles was hesitant because Shepard was coming in, too, and was considered a better quarterback prospect. So Thomas went west, which may have been a better choice for him anyway because of how well he’s fit in coach Chip Kelly’s more diverse offense, throwing 30 touchdowns last season.
The Ducks led the nation with 47 points per game last season, powered mostly by James, another Texas native.
As a sophomore, he ran for a school-record 1,731 yards. Auburn held him to a season-low 49 yards with the national championship on the line.
“You can always be better,” he said. “It just depends on how hard you work.”
Oregon’s defense and special teams won’t be the same without Harris, who can be found on most preseason All-America teams. He was suspended in June after police caught him driving 118 mph, and for doing so while having a suspended license.
In addition to both teams holding legitimate national title hopes, the other tie that binds is ongoing NCAA investigations into their dealings with Willie Lyles, who ran a Houston-based service that provided scouting reports of high school players.
Oregon paid Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services $25,000 early in 2010. When Oregon released the information it said Lyles provided, purportedly for potential recruits that year, it was outdated.
LSU’s involvement with Lyles was part of the inquiry that led to Shepard’s suspension, a source familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because LSU had not announced what the inquiry entailed.
So there’s been a lot surrounding these programs, good and bad.
On Saturday night, it’ll finally be about nothing but offense and defense.
AP Sports Writers Anne M. Peterson in Eugene, Ore., and Bret Martel in Baton Rouge, La., contributed.
By Tammy Bruce
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